COVID restrictions lifted after NY hits 70% vax rate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced New York will follow CDC guidelines. Courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

New York will adopt the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines starting Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press briefing Monday.

“We have to reopen, we have to reopen smart, we have to reopen with a cautious eye,” Cuomo said. “We have to get back to life and living. And we have to do it the way New Yorkers do it, we have to do it quickly and robustly.”

Starting Wednesday people in New York who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to wear a mask or social distance except where it is required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

People will be required to wear masks while on public transportation, in nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools and health care facilities, Cuomo said. Following CDC guidelines, people who are immunocompromised and not vaccinated are being asked to continue to wear a mask and socially distance.

The new guidelines also allow for fully vaccinated people to not have to get tested following a known COVID exposure unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter.

“Individual private venues still have the ability to add additional guidelines to the state guidelines and the CDC guidelines,” Cuomo said. “For our part were adopting the CDC and we’re saying let’s open.”

The latest COVID guidelines for the state come at a good time, Cuomo said. Also beginning Wednesday, a number of the COVID capacity regulations are being lifted, most business capacities which are based on percentage of maximum occupancy will be removed and instead businesses are limited only by the space available for patrons to maintain a six-foot social distance.

The curfew for outdoor food and beverage establishments ended Monday and the curfew for indoor food and beverage establishments ends May 31. Cuomo also noted the new outdoor gathering size limit is 500 people, and 250 people for indoor gatherings, the limit for indoor residential gatherings will be 50 people.

Large sporting arenas will be 50% for people who are vaccinated and 50% for people who are not, Cuomo said. In unvaccinated sections those people will need to maintain the 6-foot social distance, and be required to wear masks.

“This will be up to he individual venue,” Cuomo said. “Just to be clear, if I owned the Knicks, the guidelines are 50% for vaccinated people, but I would go higher. I encourage operators and venues to go higher than 50% vaccinated, you can go to 100% vaccinated. That’s in a private operators control, and frankly from the state’s point of view we want to encourage people to get vaccinated.”

In addition to the health reasons for getting vaccinated, Cuomo said the state is opening up with more opportunities for vaccinated people.

A number of New York events which had been canceled or postponed will be able to take place this year, Cuomo said. The New York City Marathon will take place in November with a 60% capacity of 33,000 runners.

Cuomo also outlined some of the regulations for county fairs this year. The state issued guidelines for the New York State Fair last month. County fairs will be able to open up to the capacity that 6-foot social distancing will allow for that fair, Cuomo said. Departments of health issue permits for events of more than 5,000 people.

“The whole point of the CDCs change, the whole point of our change is to say to people there are benefits to being vaccinated,” Cuomo said. “Number one, if you get COVID, which there’s a fractional chance that you get it, if you’re vaccinated you wont get as sick. Number two, you can’t transmit it to anyone. And number three, yes, New York is opening, but you’re going to have more opportunities if you are vaccinated.”

A number of arts and cultural events will also be allowed to take place this year, Cuomo said. The TriBeCa Film Festival will also be allowed this summer, Cuomo said. It will open at a new public space Pier 76 Park. Radio City Music Hall will reopen on June 19. No one will be required to wear masks at Radio City because it will only be opened for people who are vaccinated.

“You can knock us down, but we’re going to get up,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to get up smarter and stronger and more united than ever. That is us, that’s who we are, it’s in our DNA, it’s what we mean by New York Tough otherwise you don’t make it in this place. We have and we will and we’ll do it together.”

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